it is snowing loose horses

Life sure has been challenging, rewarding and full of a variety of emotions lately. I had just sat down to enjoy a moment of peacefulness, sipping my warm morning coffee in the stillness of a snowy Saturday morning. I glanced up and thought was that the top of a deer that just ran past our house...hmmm...that's weird, it was so close to our houseI got up to look out the window to see if I could catch a better glimpse of it. 

What I saw was Brad shuffling his feet down our half plowed icy driveway with two halters in hand...OH NOOOO NOT AGAIN!!! Similar scene. Different day. Bigger problem. This time, all three horses are out!! Once again I throw on a coat & boots, and hustle outside down our looong driveway. Sigh.

I find Brad in our field by the road, trying to approach three less then cooperative horses. I call "Koooda" "Nemoooo"  and they all come running towards me. Sweet! Thinking the situation is about to be under control, I quickly snap a pic before tucking away my phone.

(L-R) Koda, Harmony & Nemo

After the horses came running over by me, I thought I heard something like "weeeeee, c'mon ma let's go explore the other fields" as Koda and Harmony abruptly headed north. For a hot second, Nemo stopped a few arms lengths away from me "whhhhoooaa, then #$@!" if only I had a halter...and he took off to round up the others. Great.  This isn't going to end anytime soon. I yelled to Brad "I am going back for the other halter". In hindsight, I should have just followed them and made do with whatever Brad grabbed.

I went back to the barn and grabbed the third halter, and a bucket of grain. While shuffling back along our icy driveway I heard a beeeep. Gulp! They must be on the road. I considered jumping in the truck. Who knows where the horses would head to, and the recent snow conditions made for really slow walking.

Harmony & Nemo checking out the poop pit
Koda is more interested in the new humans

Looks like all three horses are calmly heading back, with Brad and two additional human helpers. So I snapped a few more pics on the fly. It is wrong, I know. I can't help myself, and only took seconds. However, the horses took off towards our back field. That was good, and bad. It is away from the road, but the back of our property butts up to miles of land and marsh. 

(L-R) Nemo, Koda and Harmony

I also turned, and headed towards the back field thinking "I have grain, they will come to me now for sure" 
but they didn't venture far and could care less about the grain. I guess it was worth a try. Nemo was running amuck trying to round up his new herd friends. 

The snow was deep in the back field. I did my best to trudge through it quickly. By the time I got to the bottom of the hill, Brad had Koda & Harmony. I tried to get Nemo. Brad tried to get Nemo. We could get close, but Nemo had no intention of being caught. He was high tailed, blowing, snorting and prancing like the beautiful horse that he is. He went back-n-forth between us, and the two helpers that had stopped to help Brad. They were headed back to their vehicle. Nemo was in dismay that his new potential herd members were not following him "Haaaaay guys, the pasture is this way" We gave up on catching Nemo, and headed towards the barn...

(L-R) Koda, Brad and Harmony

I yelled "c'mon Nemo, they aren't part of your herd - lets goooo"...he chose to follow us. When we got near our driveway curve, Nemo tried to start the rendezvous up again. Suggesting we take the driveway back towards the road "that was fun, let's do it again!" NO, Nemo - that was not fun we are going back to the pasture with or without you. We split the two horses we had up. Brad took Koda and I took Harmony back to the pasture. Nemo followed along, the not so little turd.

With the horses safely back in their pasture, I asked Brad what the h-e-double-toothpick happened. It was an accident. While clearing the path between the barn and pasture (which is at an incline) the bobcat slid into the gate, not realizing the amount of slippery slushy wet snow that was underneath. The only way to get the bobcat unstuck was to unlatch and open the gate somewhat. Brad said he couldn't get out of the bobcat fast enough, before the horses escaped. I know what you are thinking, no comments from the funny farm from me this time. Just thankfulness that everything turned out okay. 

It turns out the people that stopped to help Brad are our neighbors down the road. A mom, and her 12-ish year old son. I haven't met them, but I will when I bake them some cookies to say thank you. 

I don't know what it is about snowy loose horses running around 8am on Saturday mornings, but it can stop any time now. 


watchful eye

It doesn't matter what I am doing outside, Nemo keeps track of me. I have no doubt he does even more so with Brad, as he loves him more then any other human. When I am outside hiking or doing whatever, Nemo stops his world to keep a watchful eye on my whereabouts. Even at a distance. He likely considers me part of his herd. 

Nemo on guard (Jan 2020)
the other two are chomping away at the feeder 
Harmony and Koda seem to care less. Maybe it isn't their job, and they know Nemo has surveillance covered.

Nemo (Dec 2019)
I have been trying to keep a closer eye on our small herd dynamics, and think about why they do what they do. Although our herd is rather subdued, it is still fascinating!! I don't know a horse person that doesn't love herd dynamics. There is SO much to be learned from observing horses. 

Koda, Harmony and Nemo (Dec 2019)
I have been taking photos of the big guy for many years, and have yet to get a photo of Nemo without his watchful eye - directly on me. Unless of course I catch him with his eyes closed, or masked. Even when the horses are running and interacting, he is looking at me/the camera. I can't help but wonder, how does he keep one eye on me at all times?

Nemo (May 2019)


lever latch

The inevitable eventually happens. As you may have read two of our horses escaped for the first time since moving to our land over a year and half ago. During the couple minutes it takes to walk back into the barn and get the next horse for turnout, the strong wind blew the unlatched pasture gate wide open. I can assure you, this never would have happened if latched. There is always a possibility of horses getting out by going over/under a fence, but in our case it is unlikely. 

Our gate latches are different then the common chain notch system we've used for years. These latches are meant to operate from the ground, and also allow opening while mounted on horseback. Brad really likes them, and wanted us to have the ability to ride in/out of the pastures without dismounting. They would have come in handy for all the times we rode in/out of the pasture at the old family farm, and also the pastures at Brad's trainers.

We use the Single Piston Lever Latch made by Priefert. The system has two built in latches. The top long lever handle slides back-n-forth into a metal holder secured on the post. A second smaller latch flips over onto a metal bolt preventing the top latch from sliding. 

A chain could be added to our gates for triple security, but for now what we have is enough. Just ask anyone who has ever tried to open our gates from the ground, especially if the bottom latch is forgotten. I may or may not have said a few profanities when operating our gates. Pretty sure our latches will need some oiling to operate from horseback ;)

half locked gate
(top lever is latched, bottom is not) 



Walking past our kitchen window and what do I see, but two brown horses standing in front of me!!  Oh #&%@ our horses are OUT!!! 

I hustled to throw on a pair of shoes (no time for socks) or boots (it snowed last night) and grab a coat and my hat (conveniently located above coat). By the time I got outside, Brad was walking past the front of our house with a snorting Nemo in hand. 

In my morning "I haven't had coffee yet, stuper" I said "where are you going??" Brad replied "I am just following tracks" as he started down our long driveway towards the road. Gulp!! Silly me to think Koda & Harmony would choose to stick around. Ha!

"I'll grab some halters" and headed to the barn. I also put Tank in a stall, don't need another animal running loose.  He was likely wondering what the heck was going on, this isn't the morning routine. After breakfast, the horses go in the pasture. Yep, that's what I thought too. Looks like this is going to be a long morning! 

I saw Brads phone in the barn, so I popped into the house to grab mine. Just incase of an emergency. I headed down our driveway and saw Brad & Nemo already coming back from the road with Harmony nearby. My horse on the other hand had decided to explore the neighbors yard a bit more. 

Harmony wasn't sure
what to do, stick by Nemo, do more exploring, or come to the person carrying the halter calling..."Haaarmony" ...my thought was to get the closest horse. Harmony was more dialed into Nemo & Brad, Koda on the other hand was heading away from all of us for more fun exploring...so I switched to..."Kooooda" ...he came joyfully running towards me past me, and stopped a short distance away in our field. The field that will eventually in part, include our outdoor arena. He grazed as I haltered him. Good boy Koda. 

I handed Brad Harmony's halter, and we all headed back up the driveway towards our house/pasture. I got "the sigh" from Brad when I stopped to take the worlds fastest selfie. 

Nemo & Harmony
walking away back to the pasture
Koda is with me.

Notice neighbors house in distance (along treeline) our road is beyond it.
Brad found Koda and Harmony across our road, munching in the neighbors field. He said once they saw Nemo, they were like "uh oh, I don't think we are suppose to be doing this" and crossed back over by them. 

I am thankful for so many things: our horses are level headed, that Brad had not turned Nemo out yet (our Alpha horse), we recently did walk-a-bouts with all three, fresh snow (for tracking), it was Saturday morning before 8am (less traffic) and most importantly everyone made it back home without incident.

I couldn't help myself and asked Brad "what did we learn this morning?". His reply "cold wind really has a bite in the mornings" Ha ha, he knew where I was going with this...annnnd, I said "the pasture gate doesn't stick anymore, you have to lock it every-single-time!!" Stuff happens.

When I saw Harmony and Koda standing so pretty outside our window (ohhh the photos I could have taken lol) I knew exactly how the horses got out. The gate used to wedge snuggly on the wooden post, but it has swung open every time for a while now. I always lock it. When turned out, usually the horses either take a fresh drink or head to the hay right away. They don't bother the gate. But haaay, if the door swings wide open they are going to walk through it!! Who wouldn't?! Surprise!! I am awake now! Let's hope the rest of today is less eventful.


who's up next

It was really nice having Brad home for a staycation. I realized after the fact that I didn't scoop much poop while he was off work, yaaay!! That was a nice break for me :)

Most days we split chores into two parts, first call to action is always getting the stinky stuff picked and hauled away. Thankful that during Winters my friend bob(cat) is home! We usually head back to the barn in the afternoon after stalls air out a bit, spread PDZ (love that stuff, thanks Arlene!!) add shavings, clean out water dishes, take care of the kittens and most days sweep. Hay bags usually get filled at night, but sometimes the hay bag fairy fills them in the morning! 

We were all but done with afternoon chores, when Brad said he was heading out to lunge Nemo. Wait, what? The big guy is going to be SO happy! He gets very jealous and grumpy when Brad chooses any horse other then him. 

In usual guy form, I had no warning (insert eyeroll) so iphone photos it is. As soon as Brad walked out to get Nemo, a swirling blustery cold wind kicked up! So much for our cloudy but warmish weather. He told me Koda was in disbelief when he walked right past him (Koda always comes to the gate, always) to get Nemo, who comes to the gate when he chooses. Koda raced past Brad and stopped between him and Nemo who was munching at the feeder "here I am, take me, take me". Ha ha!! I said it before and I'll say it again, Koda needs and wants to do stuff with his humans. He gets bored and naughty otherwise. I missed all the funny. 

I finished up the last bit of chores, and headed out to the imaginary outdoor arena to observe and snap some pics. Notice the random Fall 'er Winter leaves blowing around willy-nilly in the short video clips.


Nemo doing the loopdy loo

Nemo was, Nemo. High headed and spirited at first, but with control for his trusted human. Brad knows Nemo best, and let him burn off some excess energy before asking for the intended light trot/walk lunge. Nemo is highly sensitive, and incredibly intuitive. To know him is to love him, he is such a good boy!!

The whole time Nemo was out, Koda was glued to the gate. Harmony called for their fearless leader. Koda was one happy boy when he found out it was his turn next!

Koda's merry-go-round view

Koda's Fabio-ish hair blowing in the wind

Brad mentioned he was so happy with Koda's behavior. It doesn't take much for him to become the good boy he can be. 

This time it was Harmony that was glued to the gate, and it wasn't because Koda was out. She didn't even care about Nemo's pasture whereabouts. She wanted to see what was on the other side of the barn, just like everyone else. Can't blame her. 

Brad had no intention of taking Harmony out, because, well our daughter doesn't like any one doing any thing with Harmony without her....enough said. After turning both boys back out, all I said was "she is STILL waiting at the gate" which is very unusual for her. 

She was happy to be up next! He took his other girl out for a stroll, and even ended up doing a short lunge. Harmony gave the biggest spook the second she walked past the bucket/tractor/bobcat and saw the other side of the barn monsters. She jumps in place, but you can feel it a mile away. It is a tight feeling space to pass through with the column etc, apparently the extended view on the other side of the barn was a surprise or ? They paused for reassurance. I began to wonder if taking Harmony exploring was a good idea...

Harmony was very lookie

one tight rope

While lunging Harmony was paying attention to everything but Brad, but other then that she did nothing wrong. In the old girls defense, who knows the last time she was out and about. She was happy to be included, and see what the others got to see. Such a pretty mover. 

It has been a great horsey end/start to our year!! The hardest step is always the first one. I'm hopeful our exploring will continue, and expand for everyones sake. Weather permitting. Looking forward to being hands-on and out from behind the camera. 

I sure have been a chatty-cathy lately. Don't worry, I am not going to post every single time we lunge our horses lol. These first few times were noteworthy, for me. I appreciate your reading my wordy thoughts, and commenting. Hope your year is off to a good start as well!!


dragon be gone

Well that didn't take long. It appears the Koda-dragon has subsided, at least for now. It has been five days since the last time he explored new ground. Perhaps it was the change of location, or more likely the prior walks on the wild side ~ day one and day two. Now he knows, some interaction and love then back to the herd he goes.

Our ground is pretty soggy. After watching Nemo do a comical "slide-n-what-the-hell-just-happened-drop-to-the-ground" in the not so dry lot, Brad opted to take Koda to a different field for the first time this year. It is on slightly higher ground, where we are thinking plan to put our outdoor. The original location. Like everything, uprooting this field has pro's & con's and requires serious thought to lessen the impact on our land. Besides trying to leave the best producing fields intact, it's proximity to our neighbor to the south is less then desirable. You can also see our neighbors storage barn area to the north, but more distant and less active. We are considering planting bordering trees to the south, if they wouldn't shade the arena/remaining crop area too much. TBD. After looking at the photos I took, I noticed Koda's ears are always to the south...

January 4th was a beautiful sunny winter day to try out a new area (and a new long awaited camera lens!!) with Koda. Brad lightly lunged him at a walk/trot.

pretty chill even at the start

Tank got to join in the fun romping around the field. He does a pretty good job staying out of the way.

Tanks zoomies didn't seem to faze Koda

Koda taking it all in

I'll have to remember to groom the horses prior to taking photos (duh!) not afterwards as a reward. Koda loves being groomed.

lazy pants needs encouragement

checking out the far side of the field

the trio heading back
Koda is one big barreled chunky monkey

I get so much joy in watching Brad interact with our horses, or any animals for that matter. He is such a natural, and sooo good with them. I am glad Brad isn't camera shy (like me!) and doesn't mind photos being taken of him with our horses. It allows me to capture their genuine interactions...

my loves


as the year turns

We turned down four invitations of various types to join others in celebrating New Years. A gala fundraiser, a group meal out, group meal at our neighbors home and a low key "come over" type of home celebration. We donated to the fundraiser, chose not to celebrate with the group out and turned down the latter two last minute invites. We truly appreciate those that reached out to include us, but Brad & I have been opting for quiet ushering out/in for years.

Our New Year overnight spa retreats have been replaced with our own homestead retreat. We still enjoy(ed) an early meal out at our favorite supper club. We always order the same thing, and foster laughs when we don't even look at the menu. Especially when what we order is not on the menu, but they make it for us every single time regardless. It is always delicious! No clue how they do it so consistently, especially when the place is swamped on holidays. 

After feasting, we headed home to change into barn clothes and spent relaxing time with our horses. Pretty sure they thought we were nuts!! Koda & Harmony got their muddy tails washed, and they all got loved on and brushed before tucking them back into their stalls.

Brad has taken some extra days off of work over the new year. We've been talking horse, and thinking. Where should we put the outdoor arena? The location keeps changing. We've also been saving, and planning where to add an indoor arena. Someday. We would certainly spend more time with our horses with either of these valued additions. 

It occurred to me, 2020 means Harmony is 20!! Wow! Where does the time go??!! 

Harmony is as stoic as the trees, October, 2019
I met her when she was 4-ish. She was my lesson horse for a short time before becoming our daughters lesson & 4H (youth group) heart horse. We bought her when she was six, against my better judgement. Something my daughter has never forgiven me for. I rested my case when we were unable to register her with AQHA thanks to the shifty stable owner. Such a bummer, Harmony would have passed on some great traits. I don't recall the QH stud, but here is her Dams pedigree

I've always felt sorry for Harmony. Altho she was loved by riders at her breeders barn, the owner thought of her as a "red headed step child" because she didn't fit into her riding/jumping program. After we bought her, she was shown a few more times at fun shows. Harmony has since lived at many different boarding stables. Some situations fit her better then others, she is first and foremost a pasture loving girl. She keeps finding barn buddies, and having to leave them. It has been hard on her. 

She also lived with us at the family farm, and helped raise Cierra. Harmony has always been cared for, but not always ridden or more importantly visited with frequency while boarded. Some things are out of my control...

Harmony meandering over to me, December 2019

Harmony is a quiet middle of the pack girl these days. Brad has always loved her, and Koda & Nemo love her too. I have learned to love her for her many redeeming qualities, and set the intense part of her aside. She is home to stay. Brad promised me he won't let her be moved again. Altho she is our daughters horse, he technically owns her. I pick and choose my battles and should it come up again, I am going to hold him to that promise. For her sake.

Harmony is always observing, December 2019

Harmony is happy here, although I think she could use a female friend. Nemo and Koda are so close (they were born one day apart, and been together since day one) that I feel at times she is the third wheel. It is interesting to watch the trio pastured and see who they choose to be with, and when. 

Harmony is a polite mare
December, 2019

Harmony & Nemo (love the ears)
October, 2019

As the year turns, our beautiful red-headed girl is getting up there in age. Although you would never know it when she chooses to leave the boys in her dust!!

Harmony is a powerhouse, October 2019

Sweet Harmony, December 2019


Happy New Year ~ getting creative

I just couldn't decide which photo to use for my annual handmade holiday card this season. Most of the cards I make are equine related. I had prospective photos options, but none of them inspired me enough to move forward with such a labor intensive project. I obsessed about it...

Cierra's calendar photos are good prospects? The concept I had was too similar to last years. I have several pics of Koda I could use? I feel like he gets more visible love than the others. It is Tanks first Christmas with us, I should really feature him! I made a composite using one of my favorite puppy photos of him, but it turned out too fake for meBrad & I have talked about taking a photo of us for years in our woods, and we could include Tank! Never going to happen, at least not in time for this years card. I all but gave up. What difference does it make anyways. I spend days running errands and working on cards, for people to promptly throw away. 

After battling several long upper respiratory viruses the past couple months, I was beyond being able to catch up on my holiday to do list. SO what did I do? I let go, of my self imposed holiday expectations and focused on what was important to me. Creating my annual card. 

The process takes days of thought, then searching through digital files. I need to edit my mail list, get enough photos printed, find coordinate paper, make sure I have enough card stock/envelopes and sticky stuff. I always run out of sticky tape runner! I try to add a tasteful embellishment and sentiment. Someday my rubber stamps will be organized and easier to find. The cards need to be addressed, oops forgot I ran out of labels last year. I also never reordered my return labels that have a typo, so hand writing both on around 40 cards it is. Oh yea, I can't forget to buy postage stamps! 

I decided on sending a New Years card vs pulling all nighters for cards to prospectively make it by Christmas. If you don't leave enough time, it takes all the fun out of creating. Who cares what people think, and that some have already seen the chosen photo. Right? Right!!

card cover
"Milky Way over our barn"

inside greeting
Wishing you a peaceful New Year, full of wonder!!"

My decisions, and the end card result were fulfilling. To me. I received heartfelt reactions from some of the recipients. So sweet! Once again, Brad reminded me that certain people actually look forward receiving my photography cards. My cards are different. They are a reflection of me. It renewed my commitment in the power of letting go, and being true to oneself. 

Thanks for being a treasured part of my journey, may our paths continue to cross. Happy New Year!!